By Drew Griffin In Part One we examined the rising support for gay marriage among Americans, noting that a solid majority now approve of same-sex marriage. After decades of occupying the cultural high ground American Christians, especially evangelicals, have been relegated to the periphery. Believers in America may be moral, but they are no longer in the majority. Not only are believers in the minority, but they are experiencing an increased level of persecution in the public square. So how do we as believers cope with this new status? How can we relate to our new position within the public debate? As I examine the evangelical landscape I see three different paths of response emerging which we need to consider. I do not wish to set up false dichotomy or tri-chotomy, but I do want to examine three possible roads that believers can take:
Denial: In response to the statistics, in reaction to the polls and all the evidence we can simple live in denial. We can proceed as if nothing has changed, we can choose to believe that secularism is not taking hold in the moral imagination of our friends and neighbors. We are, after all “One Nation Under God,” if it is engraved on our buildings then surely it is impressed upon the minds of those around us. While this seems implausible, many evangelicals are walking this road; avoiding the hard truths, oblivious to the new “normal” in America.
Righteous Indignation: The opposite of denial is the obsession of indignation. Some read the headlines and are incensed by the unfair treatment of fellow believers in the public sphere and their response is one of anger. Many Christians shouting at their TVs and arguing with their neighbors are walking down this road. It is no mystery why these Christians are angry. They do not see a moral majority slowly eroded by years of faithless witness; they see a theft. Their public majority has been stolen right out from under them by shifty liberals bent on winning the public debate. So as evangelicals we too can live in bitterness and insecurity, chasing after the safety that comes from holding the majoritarian position.
Gospel Faithfulness: Since the birth of Christ and Christianity the world has cycled through numerous periods of perfidy and perversion; Christians existing in these periods have been both persecuted and at times privileged. Through it all, the gospel has remained the only constant source of true meaning for the Christian life. However, the road of gospel faithfulness is narrow and difficult. Those committed to following this track should not be surprised when they come up against a hostile cultural majority. A servant is not greater than his master, so when we are maligned and mistreated we should not be shocked.
The Bible consistently informs its readers as to their role in this world. We are to be a holy nation, a people of God’s own choosing, called to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9) We proclaim the excellence of His love, truth, and grace back into the darkness from which we came. For the majority of the world is a dark place, ruled over by a dark being, so we should not be surprised when we find ourselves in the minority. Furthermore our confidence should not come from holding the majority and our security should not be sought in the political establishment. Our confidence is in One who was born in a manger, crucified by a crowd, and raised by the power of God. Our security rests in the hands of the one who orders all creation for His glory.
It is not easy to resist denial and recognize the reality around us; and it is not easy to engage our cultural opponents in righteous love instead of indignation. But this is the narrow gate we are called to enter and the difficult road which we are called to go down; and while the way is “hard it leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:14)
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